Alex Tischer 2020 Q&A: Communication, Conflict, and Others

[Note: In total, there will be 6 Q&A posts to cover all of the topics brought up during the user-submitted Q&A period. The candidates were limited to 300 words to answer each question, but they were allowed to rearrange and combine questions within a single post to more clearly express their thoughts. Candidate answers represent only the views of the individual candidate and are not endorsed by the OTW.

Due to a high volume of similar questions this year, many questions were merged and duplicate questions were left out. Other than this, questions appear in the form they were submitted. Questions represent only the views of the individual questioner and are not endorsed by the OTW.]

With the outside world increasingly bananas, how will you balance your Board duties with your other commitments/jobs?

It’s impossible to predict the future and of course 2020 has not been particularly good for any kind of long-term planning but I would prioritise my time according to whatever situation comes up.
Time management even in the face of chaos is my one transferable job skill from my RL job as an emergency vet so I am confident that I would find a workable balance. While the world was certainly a simpler place in my previous Board term starting in 2015, I did manage without issues then and I would hope that this time would be no different.

How would you describe your current relationship with your committee chairs, and OTW leadership at large? Have you encountered any issues in the past, and how have you handled these? Do you imagine your interactions would change should you be elected to the Board?
I get on well with my committee chairs (or my staffers in the case of Webs, the committee where I am chair) and the other chairs and Board members. I have never had major problems working with any of them, even when we disagreed in practice over something or another. Any issues are usually handled by talking about them and resolving them. I don’t foresee this changing any more than it did the last time around.

Can the candidates share the LEAST popular fandom that they like? Feel free to rate or explain the popularity in one’s own way.
Judging what is least popular is subjective and very tricky. Compared to some of the juggernauts there isn’t much fanwork out for Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. Is it an unpopular fandom? I wouldn’t say so, it just hasn’t as many fanworks produced for it. I love it with all my heart though.
I mean, I could name some obscure German children’s TV characters but they have literally no fandom so I don’t know if that would qualify. (If you happen to have fanworks about Hallo Spencer‘s Poldi though, please link me.)

Now that you’re running together, what would you say are the nicest things you learned about each of your fellow candidates?
Nicole and Zoë are fellow needlework enthusiasts, Nicole did an amazing OTW themed knitted blanket and Zoë has a large collection of cool needleminders. Kati has a green thumb and gets very invested in her own plants and in getting others to look after their plants properly. Jess is owned by some adorable dogs.

How do you approach conflicts involving you in the OTW or other professional settings? Can you talk about a time that you resolved a conflict that you had with a fellow OTW volunteer or a colleague? What happened, and what you learned from them? [merged question]

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Can you describe a time when you made a decision you regretted (removing identifying info, of course) and how you sought to make it right afterwards?
I generally take an “apologise and talk it over” approach to most conflicts. Depending on the situation, asking someone else to mediate to help avoid misunderstandings can help. My goal in these situations is to reach a compromise or decide to let the subject rest, depending what is more appropriate.
As for a concrete example, during my last term on the Board we were having a public discussion about some procedure or another and one of the people involved was, in hindsight, obviously more invested in the discussion than the rest. They were clearly upset and when I reached out to them they mentioned that they felt they had angered me and were afraid of what it would mean to have a Board member hating them.
I apologised and reassured them that while I had a different opinion on the procedure in question, I had no issue with them personally and neither would their opinion differing from mine affect how I interacted with them.

In terms of person to person communication, what would you say is your best quality?

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Can you talk about a time that something about your work style or communication style caused problems in your professional life? What did you do to handle those problems or prevent them from recurring in the future?
I’m very direct and good at compartmentalisation and yes, I know that is a double-edged sword. But it means I will not waste your time talking around an issue, I will not leave you guessing if I disagree with something and I will also not take any disagreement out of the relevant space. I don’t take the fact that others have different opinions personally — that’s an important part of teamwork — I won’t DM people to continue a discussion we’re all having as a team.
Given that a lot of my day-to-day work communication has to do with addressing animals’ health emergencies, my colleagues are often the same with regards to being direct and matter-of-fact. We need to be able to tell each other when we’ve made mistakes, even when the stakes are high or when we’re all tired. We don’t often run into issues but occasionally a colleague and I will clash and we’ll talk it over as needed.
I tend to handle these situations by being extra polite for the shifts we do have together as long as the issue hasn’t been entirely sorted: stay professional, polite and focus on getting the work done.

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